Gove says links with media ‘not always in public interest’

The relationship between the Press and politicians is not always in the public interest, Michael Gove has said.

The Education Secretary told the Leveson Inquiry some journalists and MPs could end up “relying upon each other for confidences which are not shared with the public at an appropriate time”.

Mr Gove, a former journalist on Rupert Murdoch’s The Times, also heaped praise on the media mogul, calling him a “great man”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Conservative said the idea the relationship between politician and the Press is “poisonous” is an overstatement” but it could be a “little rough edged”.

He added: “It is also the case that there are some politicians and some journalists who develop a close relationship which may not be altogether in the public interest”.

Mr Gove said proprietors and executives would “from time to time” attempt to influence ministers but “robust politicians” would listen politely but not bend.

He told the inquiry he had never expressed a view on the News Corporation bid to take full control of BSkyB to his political colleagues.

Asked about Mr Murdoch, he described him as “one of the most significant figures of the last 50 years” and agreed he was a “force of nature, a phenomenon and a great man”.

Mr Gove repeatedly denied discussing News Corp’s bid for BSkyB with News International bosses and said he had “no recollection” of knowing about the proposed takeover before it became public.

But he admitted expressing sympathy for Andy Coulson who resigned as Downing Street’s communications director with then News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks when the pair met socially.

Mr Gove, whose wife Sarah Vine is a Times journalist, said he maintained close friendships with reporters, but “tried to exercise appropriate judgment”.

Asked why the public apparently holds politicians and journalists in contempt, Mr Gove quipped: “’Twas ever thus”.

Lord Justice Leveson later became involved in a stand off over Press regulation and freedom of speech, with the Education Secretary warning against new laws governing the media saying it was inevitable that some people were going to be offended.

But Lord Justice Leveson hit back: “Don’t you think that some of the evidence I have heard from at least some of those who have been subject to Press attention can be characterised as rather more than, ‘Some people are going to be offended some of the time’?”